The Declaration of Human rights by Cyrus the Great

It has been hailed as the first charter of human rights (circa 500BC), predating the Magna Carta by nearly two millenniums (~1700 years) and in 1971 the United Nations published translations of it in all the official U.N. languages. It is now kept in the British Museum and it is no exaggeration to say that it is one of the most precious historical records of the world. Also a replica of the Cyrus cylinder is kept at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Cyrus read the Charter of Freedom out after he put on the crown:

"Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Persia I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them. I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it, and if any one of them rejects it, I never resolve on war to reign. I will never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs, I will take his or her right back and penalize the oppressor. I will never let anyone take possession of movable and landed properties of the others by force or without compensation. Until I am alive, I prevent unpaid, forced labor. Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights. No one can be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their own ruling domains. Such a tradition should be exterminated the world over..."

It was a wise political strategy of king Cyrus to issue the charter especially considering the vastness of the Persian Empire and all the different cultures that now lived within her borders. This resulted in the survival of the Achaemenid Dynasty for a few hundred years. - Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, Map by Mapporn
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